Organize & Clean

The Top Clutter Hotspots in Every Home (and How To Conquer Them Quickly)

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Tia Borgsmidt)

A friend you haven’t seen in a while calls to let you know she’s in the area and would love to stop by. You say: “Of course—come over!” You think: “Just give me three hours to clean up, please!” Ideally, we’d follow the “tidy up a little every day” routine, but despite our best efforts, there are certain spots in our homes where the chaos just tends to build. Here are five problem areas and the bins, baskets, and catchalls you can use to organize the clutter quickly whenever a friend pops in. This five-minute cleanup trick is as simple as throwing everything in the closet—but so much easier to sort through afterwards.

The Bathroom:

The bathroom is one of the top spots to tackle before a guest comes over. It’s a room where visitors are likely to take note of organization, because if critical items aren’t well-appointed, well, they’re definitely going to notice. Consider keeping two baskets in the bathroom, as shown in the bathroom above from Inside Out. Use one with a lid for hiding dirty towels, and keep a small open-top one for storing toilet paper—so guests will never have to ask or search through cabinets. Try this lidded seagrass hamper from World Market or this handwoven one from Connected, and the FLADIS basket from Ikea.

(Image credit: Scandinavian Love Song)

The Bedside Table:

This tiny surface often ends up getting overcrowded with glasses, watches, and newspapers. Keep all of these essentials out of sight but within reach by stashing them in hanging wall pockets beside your bed, as Johanne Dueholm of Scandinavian Love Song did in her bedroom, above. Find these stylish containers in a range of neutrals and brights at Normann Copenhagen, or check out the Container Store’s re-arrangeable magnetic catchalls that attach to a metal wall plate.

(Image credit: Nesting Place)

The Entryway:

Often treated as a dumping ground for keys, junk mail, and loose change, the entryway notoriously collects clutter—and it also happens to be the first area friends see when they step inside. To stow away all the mail and mittens at a moment’s notice, Myquillyn of the blog The Nesting Place replaced the classic console table with a vintage dresser. Designate compartments for common out-the-door items, like one for hats, another for scarves. Replace the top drawers with baskets that slide out, so they’re not only easier to fill, but also easier to bring to another area of your home when you’re ready to go through them.

(Image credit: Elisabeth Heier)

The Entryway, Option II:

Another take on the dresser as entryway organizer, this Ikea’s STALL cabinet spotted in Elisabeth Heier’s beautiful home takes up less square footage than your typical shoe pile, and it has pull-down compartments that are perfectly sized for not only shoes, but also magazines, books, and mail. Sections that swing down rather than pull out mean you’ll never have to dig to the back of the drawer looking for a missing glove—which is really the last thing you want to do when you’re rushing out the door.

(Image credit: Kathleen Bly)

The Kitchen Counter:

In small kitchens with zero counter space and very few drawers, a jumble of spoons and dish towels tends to gather on what little surface area is left. Oftentimes, the best place to organize it all is on the wall. The clutter-catching trifecta above, seen in Alyssa and Paul Hoppe’s home on Design Sponge, sorts the mess in under a minute. Towels and utensils hang from hooks, spices and cutting boards rest on racks, and recipes and magazines perch in baskets. Find the BEKVAM spice racks and the FINTORP rail and hooks at Ikea, and similar hanging baskets are available at Peterboro Basket Co.

(Image credit: Deas og Mia)

The Coffee Table:

If you’re like me and do most of your living in the living room, then you know how quickly things can pile up on your coffee table. Throwing it all into a moveable storage bin that can slide underneath the table or roll into another room is like the grown-up version of stashing toys under your bed. Taking inspiration from the wheeled bin found in the living room above from Deas og Mia, add casters to a crate that’s shallow enough to fit under your table. When the doorbells rings, corral the mess and roll it away. Voila, clutter cleared! Then, when you’re ready to sort it all out, just wheel it into the right room.